Iraq's president said Saturday he was looking for a "strategic" partnership with Turkey as he ended a visit aimed at easing tension sparked by Ankara's eight-day military operation inside Iraq. Jalal Talabani, speaking to members of a Turkish-Iraqi joint business group, also urged Turkish businesspersons to invest in Iraq, saying growing oil income had now put his country in a position where it was able to meet payments.
"We want to forge strategic relations in all fields including oil, the economy, trade, culture and politics," Talabani said, according to the AP. Talabani arrived in Turkey Friday to allay tensions caused by Ankara's military incursion.
"With Talabani's visit, Ankara wants to make a new start in relations with Iraq," wrote columnist Murat Yetkin in Friday's edition of the liberal daily Radikal.
The Iraqi leader said Kurdish militants would not be tolerated inside Iraq's borders, and said Baghdad was continuing to exert pressure on them to lay down their arms. Turkey has been blaming the PKK militants for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people since the group launched its armed struggle for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984.